Jan122009

IHG Priority Club Rewards 30,000 Points or 10,000 Miles

Priority Club Rewards Hotel Brands

InterContinental Hotels Group is the parent of Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Crowne Plaza.  These three hotel brands are more than 80% of the 4,000 hotels represented by Priority Club Rewards.  Another four brands round out the IHG family with the upper upscale InterContinental Hotels, the extended stay brands of Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, and the recently created boutique brand, Hotel Indigo.

Crowne Plaza hotels number about 275 worldwide with more than half in the USA.  Crowne Plaza is the primary upscale hotel for IHG Priority Club in the USA.  InterContinental Hotels are the top-tier hotel brand of Priority Club and located in over 100 major cities and resorts globally, but in fewer than 20 cities in the USA.  The Holiday Inn brand has more upscale properties internationally than in the USA, but with the ubiquitous Holiday Inn Express and Holiday Inn brands, there are over 3,000 Priority Club hotels in the USA.  Priority Club represents fewer upscale hotels in the USA than Starwood, Marriott, or Hilton Hotels, however,  Priority Club has the most widespread hotel coverage of North America for any major loyalty program.

The Winter 2009 Promotion – Must register for bonus.  No retroactive credit prior to registration.

Priority Club Q1-2009 Registration link

Earn 3,000 points or 1,000 miles for every 3rd qualifying night between January 12, 2009 and April 30, 2009.  Qualifying night means a paid night booked through an IHG website or reservations agent.

 

Loyalty Traveler Analysis:

The promotion is rather straight forward so I want to comment on other aspects of Priority Club and compare the benefits of nights stayed at IHG properties with other promotions.

Hyatt Gold Passport currently requires 8 nights to earn 20,000 points and Starwood Preferred Guest takes 10 nights to earn 10,000 points.  I made comparative evaluations of these promotions for members with elite status in my last two blog posts.  I will use 9 hotel nights to evaluate the Priority Club promotion to try and keep the nights stayed in hotels within a narrow range as a variable in comparing different promotions. 

As seen from the table examples, the points earned after 9 nights are barely enough for a low level room redemption at a Priority Club hotel.  Priority Club offers special discount redemptions called PointBreaks for a free night with only 5,000 points.  A select Holiday Inn Hotel or Crowne plaza will be 25,000 points for a free night.  InterContinental Hotels start at 30,000 points per night and upper tier hotels are 40,000 points.

Hyatt and Starwood currently offer better promotional value with regard to the potential for a free hotel night with 10 or fewer paid hotel nights.  The sheer number of hotels in Priority Club make this program the best hotel loyalty option for many frequent travelers.

Earning the Priority Club 30,000 points or 10,000 miles bonus

9 IHG Priority Club Hotel nights at $100 per night = $900

Platinum

Mrs. Allen

 

Gold

Mr. Thorpe

 

General member Ms. Morland

 

Base Points (10 points per $1)

9,000

9,000

9,000

Elite Bonus Points  (50% Platinum; 10% Gold)

4,500 (50%)

900 (10%)

0

3rd Night Bonus Points

9,000

9,000

9,000

Points Total

22,500

18,900

18,000

 

Ms. Morland – Fast-track from General Member to Priority Club Platinum elite

Most hotels have Bonus Points rates offering an additional 2,000 bonus points for about $20.  Offers range from 1,000 points per night to 4,000 points per night.

Ms. Morland paid $20 more one night for a 2,000 points bonus room rate.  She calculated her Priority Club points would be 18,000 after $900 in spending for 9 nights.  She earns 20,000 points with the Bonus Points rate and qualifies for Gold Elite Priority Club status upon earning 20,000 points in 2009.

Ms. Morland purchases 40,000 Priority Club points for $460.  Her Priority Club account is upgraded to Platinum-elite status once she has 60,000 points posted in 2009.  Ms. Morland will be Platinum elite for the remainder of 2009 and has already qualified for status through February 2011 based on her 9 nights, bonus points, and purchased points.

Mr. Thorpe – Stuck in the Middle at Gold

The majority of Mr. Thorpe’s travel year consists of 20 nights per year at the Holiday Inn in Santa Maria, California when he has to train a new set of accountants for tax season each January.  He has earned Priority Club Gold elite due to his work stays reaching at least 15 nights in Priority Club hotels every year.  The Holiday Inn Santa Maria is near Mr. Thorpe’s work location, otherwise he never thinks of Priority Club points when booking holiday travel.  He occasionally registers for Priority Club promotions that come in his email.  He has earned around 50,000 or 60,000 points since his wife booked the Holiday inn Vero Beach, Florida in 2006 and cleaned out his account. 

Mrs. Thorpe would like her husband to get a Priority Club credit card.  She has her eye on a free hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Aruba for 25,000 points per night.  Mr. Thorpe should have enough points for four free nights in March 2010 after next year’s Santa Maria stay.   Mrs. Thorpe hopes to earn an additional 50,000 Priority Club points in 2009 with the credit card membership bonus and spending and try to earn 6 free nights in Aruba for a winter hotel stay next year.

 Mrs. Allen – Platinum Road Warrior

Educational publisher salesperson for the west coast region keeps Mrs. Allen in hotels 130 nights of the year.  Mrs. Allen is Priority Club Platinum, Marriott Silver, and Hilton Gold.  Holiday Inn Express is her home away from home when driving Interstate 5 from San Diego to Seattle month after month.

In addition to her Priority Club platinum status, Mrs. Allen is InterContinental Royal Ambassador.  On vacation Mrs. Allen spends her points.  For international conferences she spends her hotel stipend for luxury hotel stays at InterContinental Hotels around the world where she is treated to the finer pleasures of hotel travel. 

Room upgrades are common for Mrs. Allen.  She receives complimentary upgrades to better rooms than she booked over 90% of her stays at full service hotels offering junior suite and full suite rooms.  The majority of her stays are in Holiday Inn Express Hotels with few room differentiating  features, yet  Mrs. Allen regularly receives a specialty room with a Jacuzzi tub or the best room view in the hotel. 

Complimentary food, beverages, and gifts from hotels add at least $5,000 in value-added benefits to Mrs. Allen’s hotel stays for her 130 nights.  She earns upwards of 400,000 Priority Club points per year by registering for all the promotions she can and averaging $15,000+ in annual spending with IHG. 

Mrs. Allen rarely buys points or pays a higher rate for bonus points. 

InterContinental Hotel nights are the best redemption value for Mrs. Allen’s Priority Club points.  She has nothing but praise for her InterContinental Hotel stays on trips to North Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and South America over the past few years. 

Mrs. Allen usually has sufficient points for 12 to 14 free hotel nights per year using her earned points at the best Priority Club member hotels in the world.  Frequently, Mrs. Allen uses her points for a hotel free night reward stay at a luxury InterContinental Hotel location where the average room rate for her hotel room would be $500+ per night.   The hotel has lower priced rooms, perhaps starting at $275 as an entry level rate, yet Mrs. Allen almost always receives a complimentary upgrade from the basic room category for the hotel to a room type that would cost hundreds of dollars more per night.  Complimentary upgrades occur regularly, whether the hotel room is a paid reservation or a free night using hotel points.  Mrs. Allen typically gets a vacation value of $6,000+ in free hotel nights per year when using her points for luxury hotel stays.

Balancing points redemption for a free hotel night with the higher priced nights and paying a room rate for the lower priced rooms in the upper upscale and luxury hotels allows Mrs. Allen to travel the world and stay at InterContinental Hotels and upscale Crowne Plaza hotels for 30 days or more per year at a cost of less than $100 per night.  Her out-of-pocket expense for leisure hotel stays, about $2,500 per year, covers her Ambassador Club membership ($150 per year) and 12 upscale hotel nights ($2,400 per year for 12 nights @ $200/night).

Earning Miles from Priority Club Hotel Nights:  Miles have an allure – particularly if you are close to a nice frequent flier award.  The miles numbers look like a good deal for Priority Club members who prefer miles.  This post won’t get into a miles analysis.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. I have been a platinum member for many years (ten or more) with this program. My one complaint is the lack of upgrades provided at check in. I normally have to ask for and even push for the room upgrade that I am supposed to be provided at check in. I’ve not had experiences similar to Ms. Allen, when using these hotels.

  2. Thank you for your comment.

    I do not have personal experience as a Priority Club Platinum member. I am at around 90% for suite upgrades with Starwood Hotels for the past year. Much lower percentage with Hyatt.

    The larger the hotel, the better opportunity for an upgrade has been my experience.

  3. I registered for the ‘Free Night’ promotion in September 2008 and when no points were awarded on 15 January 2009 (maximum is 25,000) I called to ask why.

    I was told that as I had stayed enough times during the promotion period to accumulate in excess of 25,000 points I wouldn’t receive any ‘bonus’ points, which appears to be penalising my Loyalty, or am I missing something? As a Platinum Member I feel a bit cheated by this promotion.

    For info my experience of room upgrades is that I am offered them less than 10% of the time

  4. I am discouraged to hear about the low upgrade rate for IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum members. I guess the upgrade benefits are primarily for Royal Ambassadors at InterContinental Hotels.

    As I stated, Priority Club has never been my primary program. I suggest those of you missing out on all the upgrades need to venture into other programs if possible.

    Hilton was always fairly good at upgrading me to junior suites or suites as a Diamond member. I would estimate 75%+ upgrades when staying at full service Hilton properties.

    Starwood Preferred Guest is in the 85%+ range for upgraded rooms over the past several years.

    Hyatt has not been great on suite upgrades, but I usually get a preferred view room and lots of additional benefits as a Hyatt Diamond.

    The upgrades I received as a top elite member are generally at full-service hotels. Hyatt Place, Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton and aloft Hotels, Hilton Garden Inns and Hampton Inns are rare for upgrades.

    As a Priority Club Platinum I would expect an upgrade when staying at Crowne Plaza or major Holiday Inn hotels or I would be looking into another hotel loyalty program for better benefits.

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